Zandvoort: Team Malaysia preview

A1GP RAMPS UP SECOND SEASON The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is moving into sixth gear as it implements the key lessons learnt in its inaugural season. The new season is about to roar into action over the next few days in the build-up to...

A1GP RAMPS UP SECOND SEASON

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is moving into sixth gear as it implements the key lessons learnt in its inaugural season.

The new season is about to roar into action over the next few days in the build-up to the opening race of the season at Zandvoort in the Netherlands this Sunday.

More than 100,000 tickets have been sold for the Series opener, tapping into a rich vein of support for the Dutch team.

Zandvoort is one of the four new venues on the calendar as A1GP ramps up the innovative nation versus nation competition, raced in identical Lola single-seaters designed to promote an even playing field.

New venues, an extended calendar, a longer Feature Race and a revised points system are some of the changes that A1GP have made to ensure it continues to make ground in the ultra-competitive motorsport world.

New Venues

The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Brazil and Beijing have put their hands up to secure a round, replacing Germany and Portugal on a calendar that has increased from 11 rounds to 12. China will experience two races, with Beijing joining Shanghai as a host.

Good progress is being made on the Taupo circuit for what will be a four-day motorsport extravaganza, hosting the country's top racing classes and culminating in the two A1GP races on January 21.

New Teams

Nations competing this season will number 24. Dropping out of the running are Austria, Japan, Portugal and Russia, but Singapore, Turkey and Greece will be racing to the start line for the first time.

The frontrunners from the inaugural season are all back. Runaway championship winner France will be hard to beat, but Switzerland, Great Britain, New Zealand and Brazil fancy their chances and the USA team is expected to be a big improver, as are Germany and Canada.

Last season teams had two cars at each round, but this season only one chassis and some spare parts are permitted.

"The acid is on to really look after your car this season," Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive of A1 Team Malaysia said. "I'd expect a few more DNF's (Did Not Finish) which could have a major bearing on the points table and even up the championship."

Fine-tuning

Because of the new one-car policy teams have been given more time to work on damaged cars in-between the two key races on Super Sunday, with the gap between the sprint race and the feature extended from 90 minutes to almost four hours.

The two points-scoring races have themselves been fine-tuned for the second season. The sprint race, previously half an hour, is shortened to 20 minutes and the main feature extended by 10 minutes to 70 minutes. Points for the sprint race have been reduced.

A1GP has spruced up other areas 'behind-the-scenes'. The Series owners invested a great amount of money in the debut year, but huge transport costs will be slashed because of better planning whilst the marketing and promotion of the sport, with greater revenue being the ultimate prize, has been given a boost with the employment of former Nike marketing executive Kenton Elliott.

New Rookie System

For each race weekend of the 2006/2007 season there will be two 25-minute sessions early on Friday afternoon for the Series' least experienced drivers.

The definition of a Rookie is a driver who is under 25-years-old, holds an International B licence, is a newcomer to the series or has competed in no more than three A1 races in total.

Cunningham says A1 Team Malaysia is examining where they can utilize the Rookie initiative to blood young guns like Nik Iruwan and Aaron Lim, who both had successful test drives in the car at Silverstone last month.

"Having drivers of their ability to call on adds considerable depth to our driver stocks alongside Fairuz and Alex."

-credit: www.a1teammalaysia.com.my

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Series A1GP
Drivers Aaron Lim